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Service Employees International Union National Industry Pension Fund v. Artharee

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 18, 2013

SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION NATIONAL INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BERNADETTE ARTHAREE, Defendant

For SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION NATIONAL INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, MYRIAM ESCAMILLA, as Trustees of, and on behalf of, Service Employees International Union National Industry Pension Fund, JOHN J. SHERIDAN, EDWARD MANKO, FRANK A. MAXSON, LARRY T. SMITH, STEVEN W. FORD, DAVID A. STILWELL, KEVIN J. DOYLE, RODERICK S. BASHIR, STEPHEN ABRECHT, Plaintiffs: Richard C. Welch, MOONEY, GREEN, SAINDON, MURPHY & WELCH, P.C., Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 28

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

The Service Employees International Union National Industry Pension Fund (" the SEIU Pension Fund" ) and ten Trustees of the fund (collectively, " Plaintiffs" ), filed suit against Bernadette Artharee, d/b/a Coast Janitorial Services and d/b/a Coast Industries, Inc., alleging the Defendant failed to submit remittance reports and contributions to the fund for the months of July 2010 and June 2011 through the filing of the complaint. The Plaintiffs further allege that the Defendant owes liquidated damages, interest, and Pension Protection Surcharges for late contributions for the months of August 2010 through May 2011. Presently before the Court is the Plaintiffs' [7] Motion for Partial Default Judgment. The Plaintiffs seek a default judgment for amounts owed in connection with the late contributions for August 2010 through May 2011, as well

Page 29

as attorney's fees. The Plaintiffs also ask the Court to order the Defendant to submit the delinquent remittance reports. Upon consideration of the pleadings, the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The Plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient proof to establish they are entitled to a default judgment for amounts purportedly owed to the SEIU Pension Fund in connection with the late contributions or as reasonable attorney's fees and litigation costs. However, the Court shall order the Defendant to submit outstanding remittance reports

I. BACKGROUND

The Defendant is a party to collective bargaining agreement (" CBA" ) with the Service Employees International Union, Local No. 49. Compl., ECF No. [1], ¶ ¶ 8-9. The CBA requires the employers to make specific contributions to the SEIU Pension Fund, based on the number of compensable hours worked by the Defendant's employees. Compl., Ex. 1 (CBA), art. 22, § 4. When the fund is in " critical status" (as determined by certain actuarial standards), a " Pension Protection Surcharge" is added to all employer contributions. Compl., Ex. 4 (4/30/09 Notice of Critical Status) at 2. Employers are also required to submit monthly remittance reports reflecting the contributions owed to the fund. Compl., Ex. 1 (CBA), art. 22, § 4. If an employer like the Defendant fails to timely remit its monthly contributions, the employer is liable for 10% annual interest on the late contributions. Compl., Ex. 3 (SEIU Pension Fund Stmt. of Policy for Collection of Delinquent Contributions) § § 2(4), 5(1). If the fund files suit to collect late payments, the employer is further liable for liquidated damages in the amount of 20% of the late contributions, costs, and reasonable attorney's fees. Id. § 5(2)-(4); accord 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).

The Plaintiffs filed suit alleging the Defendant failed to submit remittance reports or contributions for the months of July 2010 and June 2011 through the filing of the Complaint in July 2012. Compl. ¶ 22. The Plaintiffs also allege the Defendant owes the fund liquidated damages, interest, and Pension Protection Surcharges due to late contributions for the months of August 2010 through May 2011. Id. at 23. The Defendant was served with process but failed to file a timely response to the Complaint. The Clerk of Court entered a default against the Defendant on September 21, 2012. The Plaintiff subsequently filed the present motion, seeking an award for the amounts purportedly due in connection with the late contributions, attorney's fees and costs for prosecuting this action, and an order compelling the Defendant to produce the missing remittance reports.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) provides that the Clerk of the Court must enter a party's request for a default " [w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). After a default has been entered by the Clerk, a party may move the court for a default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). " The determination of whether default judgment is appropriate is committed to the discretion of the trial court." Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F.Supp.2d 56, 57 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836, 205 U.S.App. D.C. 84 (D.C. Cir. 1980)).

Where, as here, there is a complete " absence of any request ...


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